Magazine article The Masthead

Secret of Great Editorial Writing: Tell the Story, and Tell a Story

Magazine article The Masthead

Secret of Great Editorial Writing: Tell the Story, and Tell a Story

Article excerpt

Some days, we all feel like Bill Murray's character in the movie Groundhog Day. The same people, the same events, the same minutiae--inundating us over and over.

Then it starts creeping into our writing. The same old Thanksgiving editorial. The same old don't-forget-to-vote editorial. The same old don't-blow your-fingers-off-with-Fourth-of-July-fireworks editorial.

Then it hits you. You're in a rut.

So what do you do?

You could always do what Bill Murray did in Groundhog Day. But for most of us, trying to seduce Andie McDowell isn't a practical approach toward improving our writing.

What's more practical is to take the advice of experts: Tell a story, and tell it with passion.

Mary Schulken knows passion. Now associate editor at The Charlotte Observer, she once covered an education meeting as a young reporter and came away livid at how a help session designed for poor, rural school systems was dominated by larger, wealthier school systems.

Urged by her editor to write an editorial about it, she did. And "lousy editorial though it was," Schulken said, it was written with passion.

There's no formula to writing editorials with eloquence and punch, but Schulken does have three guidelines she uses as a daily "gut check":

* "Be there--and put your reader there, too." Go where news happens, and come away with the feel for an issue that you can deliver to your reader with "strong, evocative writing"

* "Use humor and surprise." Logic and reason are good, but they alone won't win the day. …

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